The Artist: Why It’s a “Must-See!”
Article by: JessNo Comment
Last weekend, I had the opportunity to view the movie “The Artist.” Intrigued by the buzz it received at this year’s Golden Globes, I also wanted to see how a silent film is made today in the 21st century. My excitement did not go unwarranted: this movie is charming, engaging, and even presents a nice love story.
From the first opening moments of “The Artist,” we the audience are slowly drawn into the world of 1927′s Hollywood. We see famous silent screen actor George Valentin basking in the glow of his latest premier. Excellently portrayed by French actor Jean Dujardin, George exudes a dashing air with a cheerful enthusiasm for his own fame. In a way, he personifies the saying “They love me, they really love me!”
What also makes “The Artist” endearing is the way it is formed exactly as an authentic 1920s silent film would be, with each actor’s line flashed in text after it is spoken. Further adding a youthful, fresh energy to this film is the character Peppy, played by Berenice Bejo. A struggling, young dancer who hopes to get her big break in films, Peppy cannot wait to perform with George, her movie idol. Bejo brings charisma and easy likeability to her role–when Peppy is thrilled, you feel it, and her persistent work ethic and devotion to her dreams will touch you.
Some movies from the very beginning grab your attention and cause you to want to become more involved with the story through development, great acting, and unfolding dramas. “The Artist” is definitely one such movie. As Peppy begins to get work and eventually obtains superstardom, George begins to see that his celebrity and philandering ways will not always be given a pass. After a few years, the film world decides to convert to “talking” pictures. This at first doesn’t alarm George too much, as he strongly believes in his own excellence. His stern and outspoken manager ( played deftly by Roseanne star John Goodman) believes otherwise: he does not think George can survive as an actor in films with sound.
Adding to the drama is George’s home life with his wife Doris. Played with intensity by Penelope Ann Miller, Doris is aware of George’s adultery. She begins to get fed up as she is doing her best to stay as the dutiful wife. Perhaps the best scene of the movie shows George’s attempts to use his fading stardom as making him worthy of forgiveness, even involving the family dog Uggie (a scene-stealer himself!).
As George’s career turns and his marriage ends, the movie audience will find themselves anxiously waiting for each scene change. “The Artist” director Michel Hazanavicius successfully keeps the scenes moving quickly but with enough proper attention to storytelling. It’s also enjoyable to watch Peppy’s rise to “Queen of Hollywood,” accompanied by headline billing and fur coats.
Despite all of the success she has, she never forgets about George, who faces bankruptcy. This is where the great love story between George and Peppy truly begins.
Enchanting. Although their relationship undergoes several changes–including Peppy’s unrequited affections in the beginning to a later role reversal where she supports George as he faces bankruptcy–but for the most part their romance is unwavering and sweet.
I would definitely recommend “The Artist” to anyone. Dujardin emits magnetism whether he is portraying his character’s dark or light sides. Together with the elegant, bright Bejo, they make a gorgeous Hollywood couple of a begone era whose poignant story will stay with you long after the credits.